Express & Star comment: Time to cut our losses on HS2?

Another week goes by and there is another twist in the HS2 saga.

When will HS2 finally carry passengers?
When will HS2 finally carry passengers?

It was reported that the project could be delayed by more than a year – because costs are going up. Again!

Apparently HS2 Ltd is now negotiating with contractors to cut costs because ministers won’t sanction spending any more public money on it .

What took them so long? The budget for the high speed rail line out of London currently sits at some £56 billion despite an initial estimate of around £32bn.

Without a line of track even being laid the cost of this vanity scheme has been soaring out of control. And now it could be further delayed too. And there is not a slippery leaf in sight to blame for this latest hold-up.

There has been talk previously of the line being scrapped altogether if costs continue to spiral. With reports that it has already cost some £4bn to date, we might be cutting our losses in these times of austerity.

With our health service in crisis, our funding-starved police forces struggling to keep our communities safe and schools crying out for money – we can’t even afford lollipop men and women – then should we really be splashing the cash on this project?

The track will cut through swathes of the Staffordshire countryside and has caused outrage from homeowners and businesses who lie in its wake. All to enable a quicker journey to London from 2026 – as it stands.

HS2 promises to create some 500,000 jobs which is a significant injection into the economy and to boost business and encourage growth. But while the Government is giving with one hand it is taking billions out with the other.

Why has it taken so long for someone to say ‘no more’ as the cost of the rail line has increased over and over again?

Conversations being had now should have been had months if not years ago. This is not Monopoly money – this is public money and comes from the hard-working man and woman on the street. If taxpayers were asked where the Government should be spending large sums of money there would be few demanding faster trains!

We must wonder at how these savings will be made and what effect they will have on the project overall.

We don’t need the HS2 project if we want delays woe and outrageous costs – we have got that on our train system already.

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